The Rise Of The Dark, Chapter 1-2

Here’s book four of the Blasted lands. We will find out more about the dark and their plans. There will also be fun, games and finance.

The Rise Of The Dark.
Chapter 1.
The Zylvyre Estate.
Amarille Zylvyre looked out the window and laughed. “Galaith, come see!”
Galaith looked out the window and joined the lady in her laughter. “The boys show up. Let me get the door and bring them in.’
Galaith went to the door and after some mumbled speech, returned with five boys, a dragon and a young elven woman. “The boys here want to speak with you about your trip with the girls Ma’am. This young dragon is from the Press Service.”
“You must be Byddri,” Amarille said with a grin. “A pair of reprobates and my son have been talking about you.”
Byddri grinned. “That must be Mr. Harper and Mr. Ironaxe. I imagine that the Great Captain didn’t have very many good things to say about me.”
“Quite the contrary. He admired your drive and initiative. So why are you here? I am afraid that I do not have time for an extended interview as we need to be on our way or we will miss the train and have to wait until tomorrow.”
“Where are the girls,” a young elf asked. “I am Tarranth Qinvaris, by the way?”
“They should be down shortly. They are getting ready. I have provided clothes more suitable for traveling than the riding habits that they were wearing. You must be Renna’s boyfriend. Why don’t you all tell me your names and I will guess who your girlfriend is.”
An elf bowed and said, “I am Sylvar Aezeiros.”
“Nimue’s boyfriend, though you do not look all that strange.”
A fae bowed and said, “Periwinkle Yllanan.”
“Dessielle’s boyfriend then.”
The other fae bowed and said, “Midnight Rosehollow.”
“You must be Chrissie’s friend.”
A young half elf bowed and said, “Myrdin Dawkins.”
“Maylin’s friend then.”
“You knew already,” Tarranth said.”
“Yes I did. The girls and I had a nice chat about you all. Here they are, in fact.”
The girls trooped into the room and the various girls clamped onto their various boyfriends. Tarranth held up a packet and said, “Sis and the rest of you, I brought temporary passports.”
“That would not have been a real problem,” Amarille said. “The Fellowship tends to be a bit loose about such things where the Empire is concerned, but having them will be a good thing. Why temporary?”
“Because we have arranged to have permanent passports made in the Republic at the Imperial Embassy in Chatsrey,” Tarranth said. “Most people from the Empire go through the Hidden City and they have an office there, but in this case, we are going through the Fellowship.”
“I hope that you are ready, as we must be off to catch the train. Watch what you touch if you have issues with iron.”
The lady had a carriage and a wagon for luggage set up and the boys had brought a carriage and the whole cavalcade was off along a road across salt flats. They reached the station where a machine was puffing away and Amirille pointed to a compartment and said, “This is for the ladies” and pointed to another, “this is for the gentlemen” and to a third, “that is for the press. I will be taking the fourth with Galaith. Galaith has tickets for you all.”
Galiath had gone ahead to the station and bought additional tickets. He handed them out and they all boarded the train. Shortly thereafter the train started on its way.
House Shahana.
Saeliihn stalked around the parlor. It was unlike Vesryn to confront her directly and she was a bit frightened that he knew about the little plot against Vesryn’s daughter that he had with that bedwarmer he kept out at the farm. She looked up nervously as the door opened and Vesryn walked in. “I have decided to annul the marriage.”
“On what grounds?”
“The separation would have been good enough. But when you conspired with your true family to go after Renna because she spent some money that she was fully entitled to spend, that was the last straw. Since you have never wanted to be a true wife or part of our family, I see no reason keep the relationship.”
“I could make it messy.”
“I think not. I have quite a bit on your little side businesses down there in the Lower City and they will be squelched. If you return to the Ravathyra without a fuss, I will not take what I have to the Justiciars. In any case, I want you out of the House in a five day. Maria wants it because we will need to have a greater presence in the Cloud City and to entertain clients. Here are the annulment papers. They should be in order.”
He handed her the papers and left. Saeliihn wanted to scream and cry, but at this point, she knew that the charade was over. She called her staff together and told them to prepare the move. Of course, when she sent a message to House Ravathrya, Erlan responded that she must go to her dower estate as there was no funding for her at the House.
House Yllanan.
Esgalwathanar waited for his sister. While she was always requiring that various people attend upon her demands as soon as possible, she never hesitated to keep others waiting. At least he had Lazuli, Lavidia and Teiran with him to have a chat about recent events and share the misery. When his sister finally deigned to show herself, she charged in and said, “What do you want, brother?”
“I am afraid that I must ask you to leave the House.”
“I am your sister. That might be seen as being socially callous.”
“It would be, if you played by the rules. But you have always thought that rules are for others. The rules for the hospitality of family members say that you as, the guest, must not take any direct action that hurts the family. There are lines and you overstepped one.”
“How so, brother?”
“You conspired with other ladies of your House and others to arrange to get a girl kidnapped. As a result, Dessielle was taken as well. That action caused Periwinkle, who is the current heir to the House, some distress and damaged our relations with another Great House. If you cannot limit your maneuvering to things that will not damage the House, then I can no longer extend the hospitality of the House. Furthermore, as a traitoress of the House, I am withdrawing your dower income and handing the dower estate to your daughter, who has demonstrated to me that she respects the House and us. You must return to your husband within the day. I expect that he is waiting for you.”
“Sister you have always been a supporter of the proprieties and the dance as you called it. But you have forgotten why the proprieties existed in the first place. The rest of us are not dolls for your amusement and I and the others were very tolerant of your actions and you continued to step outside the boundaries, driven by your prejudices and emotion. With the taking of Dessielle and the other girls by the Richflights and their refusal to return the girls or even tell their families where they are, they have stepped outside the bounds, far outside. You conspired with them and must pay a price. You will be on your way to your House by the morning. Good day, sister.”
Lielatha charged out and Lavidia said, “Done and gone, at last.”
“So, will you and Teiran be returning to the Estate?”
“I will not. There are the other issues that we are looking into. Giving the dower estate to Llorva was inspired.”
“Llorva was managing it already and I thought that it would make a nice wedding present.”
“A very nice present. Of course her mother is going to be doing whatever she can to sully your name socially.”
“My reputation is fairly sullied already and Lielatha has made such a fool of herself these last few moons that only the ladies in her circle will pay much attention to her.”
The Lower City.
Dan came to the conclusion that he had not spent enough time in the Lower City looking into the possibilities, especially this district. The boys had recruited Folmon’s sixteen year old son to help them explore possibilities and Charlie, “Call me Chuck” had been a willing conspirator, taking the boys through the warrens of workshops brimful of elven craftsmanship and the noises of tools working and the smells of various oils vanishes and shellacs. It was at a doll maker’s that they found something that they very well could make use of. There, lined up in crates, were a stack of dolls in the likeness of Grand Master Mage Lyari Zeastearos. Dan turned to Jameis Eltumal and said, “You sell a lot of these?”
“Aye, young master. As many as we can make, to places you wouldn’t believe. Very few houses in Dolmon do not have a good mage to look over them.”
“That’s a bit shocking, considering the attitude of the Church there.”
“The Church, yes. But the folk know the good mage very well and see him as protector. So do many other places and the way these sell is a very good demonstration of that.”
“Is the crystal programmable?”
“Yes. We do set most of them up with stories for the children, but we do provide some with empty crystals.”
“I would like to buy one hundred of the dolls with the empty crystals. When can you deliver them? They do not have to be perfect”
The half elf grinned “For some mischief then. I can sell one hundred right now if you can accept some that are a bit imperfect. So what mischief is this about? I will add that I have a policy of confidentiality.”
“Not really necessary. We are sending reminders to some mages that they have Anathema hanging over them and that taking my sisters is a bad thing to do.”
“That bunch then. I think that we can come to an agreement, Mr. Harper.”
That started a very profitable day of finding various things that could be used for fun and distraction.
The Sanctum.
Onvyr emerged from the portal behind a young couple and asked the young elf at the desk, “Where may I find Elincia Zylvyre.”
“That’s my mother. Go down to the castle and ask there.”
“You seem to rather young to be guarding the gate, young man.”
“I’m not really. I’m waiting for somebody and we agreed to meet here, since we are going right back out using the portal. The portal shelter is out of the wind.”
“What is your name?”
“Very well, I will search out your mother.”
Onvyr continued down the path until he saw a familiar figure and stopped, not sure what to say. Elincia must have sensed him because she turned, looked at him, ran up and hugged him. Then she stepped back and slapped him. “That’s for not telling me where you went and not sending any mail.”
Then she hugged him and kissed him. “That’s for coming back at last. What happened?”
“The Master likes to use compulsions so that we don’t ask too many questions and with father here, I was needed there.”
“What for?”
“I think that I was a key to access certain things. It certainly was not to get the most of my skills, since they had me doing administrative things for the most part. I don’t think that they trusted the compulsions if I was too deep into things.”
“What broke the compulsions?”
“Our rather precocious daughter turned up with some other girls and told me about some things that father really should have. Of course the girls all demonstrated that they had been tested by disappearing, we were passing a supposedly dead portal that wasn’t, I had a chat with the Grand Master and a rather interesting Justiciar and here I am. Have you heard from our daughters and the rest of the girls yet?”
“They are fine. Lady Amarille got her mitts on them and is taking them shopping.”
“She will be good for the girls, if a bit expensive. I hope that the house can take cost. Though with the Qinvaris girls with them, cost it not going to be an issue. They all seem to get on well together.”
“That just sort of happened. Maylin and Merethyl ran into Renna and things went on from there. Of course those idiots took the lot. That shopping trip is saving somebody a lot of grief.”
“I saw Saevel at the portal. He was waiting for somebody.”
“Bellflower. She has beguiled him more than somewhat. I think that you will like her. They are off to the Richflight Estate to meet with the other mischief makers.”
“What are they doing?”
“Planning to send things through the portal the kidnappers used to make the people on the other sides’ lives miserable.”
“I can help with that.”
“Can you really?”
“Yes, since I lived there, I know where the most pain can be inflicted. I think that I will make it my masterwork, since if a certain toady can become a master, I certainly should.”
“Our masterwork. They took you from me and I don’t want them to do that again.”

Chapter 2.
The Retreat.
Gracie loved the beginning of a job. There was more to an excellent burglary than just breaking into a place. You had to find out about a place and the way it moved, how the people went in and out and what they did, or didn’t do. In this case didn’t was the name of the game, because without any prospects coming in, the administration of such things was absent and with mage responsible for said administration gone, the rest of the staff had gone and done something else. In any case, based on the information that Gander had provided, the big problem was going to be carting away the paper that Gander and the others wanted. Fortunately, the carts were about to be provided. Yeldan came up and nibbled on her ear. “I think that we are ready to go. All we need is the distraction.”
Gracie purred a bit “It will work better if you stop distracting me.”
“What is the fun of that?”

The Richflight Estate.
Dan looked at the contraption in front of the portal and grinned. There were grins all around as the first cart was put in the thrower and the weight cranked up. Dan looked around and dropped his hand. The weight started down its track pulling the cart faster and faster until the cart left the launcher, tripped the portal and went through, sparking and hissing.
The Retreat.
The first cart appeared in the entry and as it traveled forward from the entry, sky rockets and other fireworks launched into that air as the people in the air quickly scattered. The cart fell over, spitting it’s cargo across the ground with skyrockets going everywhere and starting fires. The fires and the cart were brought under control, when a second cart emerged, filled with apparent animals, who were suddenly pushed out and thrown all over the place, leaving the empty cart. The third cart was full of dolls that were thrown in their wrappers all over the place as the cart rolled in the opposite direction. The fourth cart was another load of fireworks which caused more havoc. Gracie and Yeldan grabbed two carts and took them to the empty processing and administration building. Yeldan tossed a rag that was smoking onto the roof and they went inside and started to dump files into the carts. When all the files concerning the kidnappings, the scanners, and as many of the rest of the files as would fit were dumped in the carts, Gracie and Yeldan threw the rather incendiary glass jar and headed back outside into the chaos. A mage came up and bellowed, “What are you doing!?”
“Saving the files! The building is on fire!”
The mage saw the smoke and rushed off to find a bucket brigade, presumably. Yeldan took a quick crystal of the chaos and Gracie and Yeldan went to the portal, activated it and ported out.
Rolin and Paeris looked at the remnants of the chaos and Paeris laughed. “Somebody is occupying the Richflight estate.”
Rolin looked at the burning processing center and said, “At least only one building was burned this time. We’ll have to put people ready to deal with the carts when they come through.”
Paeris went and picked up a doll. “Why were they pushing these through?”
A mage a came up and the doll said in the Grand Master’s voice, “Mage Iymbyl Valtoris, registration number 11158, you are under sanction of Anathema. Proceed to the nearest portal and report to the Mage Academy for debrief and reassignment. Mage Iymbyl Valtoris, registration number 11158; you are under sanction of Anathema. Proceed to the nearest portal and report to the mage academy for debrief and reassignment.”
The doll repeated the notice over and over. The mage said, “I will take that. Whoever sent these has coded them so that the crystals inside resonate off a mage’s pendant.”
Paeris handed the mage the doll. He turned to Rolin and said, “That was clever. See?” He pointed to where some children had picked up some of the dolls and run off with them. “Before too long all of the mages here will know about the Anathema. Uncle and the Master are going to start to lose mages.”
Rolin frowned. “I warned them, I warned them to watch out for things. This was probably the boys starting things up. A few fireworks and some subversive dolls. I imagine that Richard will demand that Sollor return the girls if there are any contacts for the grain.”
“We don’t have the girls.”
“No we do not. Knowing Richard, the girls will disappear for a while as Richard knows full well that the Master will not be able to deliver the girls or hurt them.”
“So what do we do?”
“Our parts in this. There isn’t anything else we can do at this point.”

The Hall of the Justiciars.
Gracie and Yeldan hauled the full carts to the hall where a waiting Adiun, Gander, Evindal and Mhaenal watched them arrive. Mhaenal called out, “You got the files!”
“Rather clumsily, but yes we did.” Gracie said.
“It was fun, though,” Yeldan said. He held up the crystal. “We have pictures. Apparently they haven’t figured out that the portal works yet.”
“The files were the important things,” Mhaenal said. “The Richflights were very careful not to leave anything that was incriminating at the estate. That was more than a little frustrating as we had caught them almost red handed. With the files we can track the payments and the victims. Mage Onvyr said that he was meticulous about getting names and that each file had the payment information. So with the files, we can track down the families. What I would really like to do is chase down this Camp of theirs, but that will need to be done carefully.”

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